Keke Palmer will play first black Cinderella on Broadway


Keke Palmer (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Apparently, being the youngest person in television history to host her own talk show wasn’t enough.

Actress Keke Palmer will be making history yet again when she takes the Broadway stage in the title role of “Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” Palmer, the first black actress to play the role on Broadway, will don the glass slippers, crafted by designer Stuart Weitzman, Sept. 9.

“I’m sooooo excited to be doing broadway for the first time, as Cinderella!! DREAMS DO COME TRUE!!” Palmer tweeted Monday.

Many know Palmer from her title role in “Akeelah and the Bee,” and she gained a young following as the star of Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson, VP.” At 20, she has fluidly moved between feature films (“Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “Joyful Noise”), television shows and television movies such as “The Trip to Bountiful” and “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.” She helms her own talk show on BET, “Just Keke.”

Currently, you can see Palmer bringing nuance and depth to her role as Coral, Libby Masters’s maid and baby nurse on the current season of “Masters of Sex.” Palmer (with help from Caitlin FitzGerald as Libby) gives life to the strained, bizarre relationship between a wealthy white woman and the black woman who works in her home. When lice appeared in her child’s hair, Libby insisted on washing Coral’s hair with medicated shampoo – never mind that Libby’s husband, Dr. Masters, said lice find the texture of black hair generally inhospitable. Coral’s face contorted with helplessness and heartbreak as she realized for the first time she couldn’t speak up for herself without losing a much-needed job — that despite Mrs. Masters’s niceties, their relationship would always be somewhat adversarial.

“She acts beautifully, she dances, she sings — she’s an amazing young woman,” producer Robyn Goodman told the Associated Press. “I think she’s going to be just so lovely.”

It won’t be the first time we’ve seen a multicultural “Cinderella” — singer Brandy played the title role in a cast that included Whoopi Goldberg, Whitney Houston, Victor Garber and Bernadette Peters in a 1997 television movie — but it will be the first time on the Great White Way.

“I feel like the reason I’m able to do this is definitely because Brandy did it on TV,” Palmer told AP. “In me doing this, it shows everybody that everything is possible.”

See Palmer as Malia Obama’s anger translator on “Key and Peele” below:

 

Palmer’s Cinderella news follows the historic casting of Norm Lewis in “The Phantom of the Opera.” Lewis is the first black man to play the phantom on Broadway.

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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